In June, a Burlington dental office (Dr. Vick Handa’s Upper Middle Dental) was temporarily shut down and 9,000 patients notified that instruments had not been properly cleaned before being used. According to this CBC article, patients were warned to go to a physician to test for hepatitis B and C and HIV. The RCDSO suspended Dr. Handa’s license from June 12 to June 14. On June 14, that practice was inspected and confirmed to have met infection control standards.
Now, as I write this, a Guelph dental practice is about to get sued in a class action by patients. By way of background, Guelph Dental Associates (which also operate under the name “Growing Smiles”) was shut down by public health inspectors and its 3,600 patients were urged to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV as a result of improper sterilization. This all started after the parents of a young patient complained about developing a bacterial infection after a trip to the dentist in June, which triggered an inspection and the shutdown. Weeks later, with the practice still not open, Gary Will of Will Davidson LLP says he signed up a few patients in a class-action lawsuit (which could theoretically include all 3,600 patients) and is seeking millions of dollars in damages.
All of a sudden, infection control became the two key words of the summer for dentists. In August, for example, both Henry Schein and K-Dental are educating dentists about their obligations when it comes to infection control. And if you go on the RCDSO’s website, infection control is right there, at the top, with a link to a page that talks about:
- How the RCDSO takes infection control and patient safety very seriously.
- How the risk of infection as a result of dental procedures is extremely low.
- How dentists should be washing their hands using proper soap and wearing protecting equipment (e.g. gloves, protective eyewear, masks, protective clothing, etc.).
- How dentists should continue to get educated on proper infection control techniques and make sure their offices and teams are up-to-date with current standards.
So with that said, let’s take a look at some of the legal implications of infection control, shall we?
In the next blog, I’ll get into a dentist’s obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.